I miss the summers in Japan: How videogames overcome language barriers

I sat cross legged in front of the TV and watched as Alex carefully removed the Super Nintendo from its dusty, neglected box. Our grandfather hardly used it, preferring to play Shogi on his computer instead of the console. Also stored away were a pile of games with labels we couldn’t read. The Japanese characters were printed in bold intimidating letters, with no illustrations to help guide our interpretation of what the cartridge held. He fished around for a second before grabbing the Super Mario World (1990) cartridge, blowing into it. It was a very familiar ritual, repeated during our…


Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is a remix too far

Things have been looking up for Pac-Man lately. Pac-Man 256 made a huge splash on phones last year, and the gluttonous pie chart recently showed up in several collaborations with Google, including map mods and playable Doodles. There was that dreadful Adam Sandler movie too, which, quality aside, did effectively remind the general public that Pac-Man still exists and still really enjoys eating things. motivated more by the need to reinvent than improve This modern-day Pac-Man resurgence was spurred on by its original creator, Toru Iwatani, back in 2007 with the release of Pac-Man Championship Edition (Iwatani’s final game before…


Parachute Pete, a game about destroying planes in the bloodiest way possible

The game jam A Game By Its Cover 2016 is over, leaving behind many interesting and wonderful games. Inspired by fake Famicom game cover art, some of the games got weird, and that’s certainly the case for Parachute Pete. The game is immature in the best way, bringing together the terrifying majesty of a massive military aircraft and the brutality of chopping up bodies with giant engines. In Parachute Pete you control a tiny, weaponless green plane, with the goal of destroying aircraft (bearing a suspiciously familiar face on the tail) that are roughly 500 times larger than yourself. How do…


Schlong is just like Pong, but with 100% more dicks

Needless to say, this article is NSFW. /// This is a difficult question to ask, so I’m just going to go ahead and get right to the meat of it. Have you ever been playing Pong (1972) and wished that, instead of the rigid paddles, you could get something a little more floppy in your hands? Schlong could have you covered. Created by Dillon Sommerville, Schlong replaces both player’s paddles in a traditional game of Pong with erect but surprisingly flexible penises, flopping around the place with the aim of deflecting a ball back at the opponent’s goal. That’s all there is to it.…


Rethinking the shooter for the VR age

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// Header illustration by Gareth Damian Martin Although videogames have been around since the early fifties, the first known electronic shooter actually appeared in 1936. The Seeburg Ray-o-Lite, best described as a sort of proto–Duck Hunt (1984), was a light-gun game utilizing a photosensitive vacuum tube and a moving target painted to look like a duck in flight. Whenever the player pulled the trigger, a beam of light would issue from the rifle controller; if she managed to hit the sensor…


Orbyss brings the beauty of ribbon gymnastics to your phone

Super Hexagon (2012) has you think in hexagons, Orbyss in circles. Repeat that: Orbyss. Circles. Don’t stop there, either. You should chant this to yourself quietly—or just in your head—as you play Orbyss. You’re gonna need to. Circles, circles, circles. Loops, loops, loops. For if you don’t drill that command into your brain you shall fail. You’ll fail anyway, a lot, like every five seconds, but with a little persistence you can match the complex elegance of a ribbon-twirling rhythmic gymnast. That’s what Orbyss mimics as you get better at it too—a magical performance of flutters and twirls. It’s a game about…


The new generation of arcades

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Nostalgic arcade games offer larger-than-life experiences on big-screen TVs, encouraging new generations of gamers to come together and play. The clang of quarters dropping into Frogger (1981) or Tetris (1984) cabinets is a fleeing memory for many, but the joy of playing original arcade games like Pac-Man (1980), Donkey Kong (1981) and Space Invaders (1978) is far from dead. Instead, the combination of creative independent developers and technologies that easily bring these indie games to big-screen TVs is sparking an arcade game renaissance that’s spreading across living rooms and festivals…


The Southern Fried Gameroom Expo is a reminder of what we’ve lost

Long cast as the home of hospitality, green tomatoes, and civil war memorials, the South is pushing back against a more current War of Northern Aggression. Gaming expos born north of Mason-Dixon line have prospered: Penny Arcade Expo began in 2004 outside of Bellevue, Washington before expanding to Boston, Australia, and Texas. Gen Con, founded in Wisconsin by the father of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, focuses on tabletop gaming and calls Indiana home. The largest and oldest retro games convention is still California Extreme, set in Santa Clara the past 20 years. But Southerners love games, too. And Preston…


Enzo, a new arcade game that’ll spin you right round, baby

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Enzo (iOS) BY WILD ROSE GAMES All you need for a compelling arcade game is a couple of lines and a circle. Alright, strictly speaking, Pong‘s (1972) ball was a square, but the point still stands. ENZO is the latest quickfire high-score chaser to prove it. It’s climbed the ever-growing tower of arcade games that have come before it and managed to provide a unique, if familiarly frustrating, challenge through its austere use of geometry. The task is to guide the path of light beams as they bounce around inside…